Malaysia is a popular destination for expats. From its cultural diversity to its economic and technological advancements, Malaysia has a lot to offer. It is also among the best-known centers for medical tourism. So, is expat health insurance necessary in Malaysia?
Yes, it is. Why? Does the public healthcare insurance system lag in any way?
No, the public health insurance system does not lag—because it does not exist. Until a decade ago, there was no health insurance system in place for expats in Malaysia.
The Malaysian government offers subsidized medical facilities at government hospitals. But this service is only for residents of the country. Malaysian expats can either choose private hospitals and pay for the expensive healthcare, or they can choose the government facilities and still pay a higher sum than residents.
Why Malaysia Expat Health Insurance is the Right Choice
The cost of healthcare in Malaysia is lower in comparison to Western developed nations. This could possibly make even private healthcare in Malaysia affordable for expats moving to Malaysia from Western countries.
Having Malaysia expatriate health insurance is a good idea, as medical bills can start to pile up fast. When you are in the hospital, your finances will be strained heavily.
The Malaysian Health Policy Change
It was only in 2011 that the Malaysian government launched the Foreign Worker Hospitalization and Surgical Insurance Scheme, known as “Skim Kemasukan Hospital dan Pembedahan Pekerja Asing”, or “SKHPPA” in Malaysia.
Under this plan of Malaysian public health insurance, it is mandatory for all foreign nationals to have health insurance. The system works in a pretty simple way. Your employer pays for the coverage and recovers half of the premium amount from you. In totality, you pay for your insurance coverage and get a fixed amount of care at government hospitals.
The upside of this plan is that there are many insurance service providers available. Hence, you have a fair enough choice among providers. The insurance covers medical expenses like overnight stays at hospitals, ambulance charges, and surgical care. On the downside, all these services are only covered in public hospitals.
Coverage is limited, and crowding and long wait times are common in the government facilities. You can never be sure if you will get treated on time or not. Thus, Malaysian private health insurance is the right choice, as it gives you absolute peace of mind. There are a few downsides of the Malaysian government healthcare facilities to be aware of in advance.
While Malaysia is continuously expanding in terms of its medical tourism, the government facilities don't always deliver. There may be times when you need quick care, and that will hardly be possible within the public healthcare system. If you want international level-facilities promptly, Malaysia expat health insurance would come in handy.
Insurance will help you in two ways. First, you will not have to worry about the cost, as a major chunk of the medical expense would be borne by your policy provider. Second, you will get a lot of additional advantages that the national compulsory insurance plan doesn’t offer. This includes the cost of repatriation and even some kinds of treatments (like dental and optical care) that don’t fall within the scope of Malaysian public health insurance.
Long Wait Times
If you are in a government hospital, be prepared to wait. Whether for something as small as a general checkup or as severe as surgery, you will need to wait for medical care and treatment. The government hospitals are almost always overcrowded. Local citizens tend to make peace with the idea that they have to wait, given that they are being offered top-notch healthcare at rock-bottom rates. However, for expats, this requires a change in mindset.
When you have to pay a higher price than residents and still have to wait in line, you may feel that the healthcare you are getting is subpar. This can induce a sense of panic. If you want your stay in Malaysia to be enjoyable and comfortable, it is better you secure yourself with Malaysia expat health insurance before you land in the country.
Inadequate Coverage in Rural Areas
Malaysia shows a stark rural-urban contrast. Whether it is in terms of general technological advancement or access to medical healthcare, you will easily be able to notice a difference between rural and urban areas.
In bigger cities like Kuala Lumpur, there is a fair enough doctor-to-patient ratio. But if you are in rural cities, there is an extreme shortage. To bridge this gap, the Malaysian government has started a system of teleconsultation called the “Tele Primary Care”.
Under this system, medical experts at the rural facilities are able to consult specialists from urban areas using IT and communication technology. This arrangement works just fine for residents and expats looking for treatment for basic conditions, but for surgical procedures and specialized care, you will have to seek treatment in urban areas.
Note that medical evacuation is not covered in public expat health insurance in Malaysia. In times like these, only Malaysian private health insurance would be able to offer financial relief and wider coverage.
Buying Expatriate Health Insurance in Malaysia
Malaysia expatriate health insurance is a must, given the lack of comprehensive coverage from the government insurance plan. The high levels of pollution in urban areas, as well as the high incidences of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, further support the need to purchase more comprehensive coverage.
If you are looking forward to spending an enjoyable and peaceful time in Malaysia, private coverage is necessary. If you would like your insurance coverage to follow you even outside the national boundaries, investing in Malaysia private health insurance is the first step you should take.